I never understood social media marketing. To my best understanding, social media has never been about marketing. It has always been about communication. In essence, what happened 10 years ago with Facebook, MySpace and other social networks was that companies got sidelined as part of the web became social.
On 30 September 2013, I left Maersk Line after exactly two years at the Headquarters in Copenhagen. In 2011, I was brought in from the agency side with the primary aim to get Maersk Line started on social media.
This is likely to be my last post about Maersk Line and social media. Last week I started in my new role as social media strategist and consultant at Wibroe, Duckert & Partners, so focus will probably shift now that the shipping game is over. So to speak.
The question I will try to answer now is this: “How can you use social media as a mass media-like marketing channel that drives business leads in the B2B space?”
Now that I’m on the verge of leaving Maersk Line to join Wibroe, Duckert and Partners (and while I’m still on paternity leave) I think it’s time to highlight a valuable lesson from my past two years in this great company. Unfortunately, it’s something I find I need to repeat again and again. Here it goes:
“Social media is about communication, not marketing.”
Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, with social media we’re dealing with social networks, not a list of broadcasting platforms where companies can launch campaigns with the sole ambition to sell more. With social media, the users have finally taken control. They themselves control what they want to see, and they sure as h… don’t want to follow companies that are only there to sell to them.
The point in my previous post (many others have said the same, most notably Tom Foremski) was that in the age of social media companies need to tell the stories that are already there. They shouldn’t try to invent the content. As many modern novelists will attest to there’s always an interesting story to tell – if you can see it, and know how to tell it.
This idea (coupled with a growing need to be trustworthy, human and transparent) led me to the conclusion that companies need to hire journalists, not marketers.
A few months ago I learned that the Maersk Line approach to social media is “radical”. I don’t see it that way. But I understand where it’s coming from: Our Social Media Team is rooted in Communication, not Marketing, and we therefore have a different approach to things.
We’re talking 20-25%. That’s the raise in knowledge worker’s productivity that McKinsey estimates can be obtained through internal usage of social collaboration tools. That number came out last summer through their social media report entitled The Social Economy, and the lead from the project, Michael Chui, was kind enough to join us in a Hangout to explain further.
More specifically, the point of McKinsey’s study is – and it’s based on an impressive and convincing amount of research – that office employees on average spend 28 hours a week or more than 60% of their time writing and reading emails, searching for information and attending meetings. Many of these things can be done more rapidly and efficiently through internal social platforms such as Chatter, Yammer and Jive.
Moving on from our findings regarding Social Customer Service, it’s now time to look at what we learned in Maersk Line’s social media study regarding Sales and not least the concept of social selling.
What is social selling?
Briefly put, social selling is about leveraging sales reps’ use of social media to perform better by getting in at an earlier stage in the sales funnel. It’s not about these employees spamming their networks/customers on e.g. LinkedIn and Twitter.
There are many good reasons why we in Maersk Line (and other companies for that matter) should care about social customer service, i.e. servicing customers via various social media outlets – in a structured way, involving colleagues from customer service.
In my previous posts about Maersk Line’s social media study I wrote about first that social media has to somehow add value to the bottom line, secondly I summarized what we’ve done in the first year and a bit. Now, it’s time (finally) to look at the actual study.
In light of our current (and future, I should add) minimal use of resources, we decided to complete the study by internal means, i.e. we wrote it ourselves. But we also decided to try involving leading international experts through a number of so-called Hangouts on Google+. This was a success.
From singular to complex value creation
The very first question we were able to answer concerned the value of our past and present value creation via the social media. This exercise was almost absurd. First of all, it is impossible to quantify added value of this kind conclusively, since it originates both directly and indirectly, both in the short and long term.
Value creation is no longer (and probably never has been) singular. It is quite all right to measure singular outcomes, but if one wants to document the total business value, simply looking at a few quantitative parameters is pointless.
Nevertheless, we were able to determine that the Return on Investment (ROI) from our Facebook page is approximately 1500%. And the results are even better on Twitter, where we have barely used any resources but have a base of followers which has a 15x greater pull.
In other words, our average Twitter follower is 15 times more influential than the average Twitter user, and when we share something on Twitter, we therefore tend to find that it ripples out into the networks of most relevance to us.
What’s next is what’s interesting Jay Baer, the President of Convince & Convert and a leading social media strategist, played a major part in the study. He said:
“It is of little value to look at the value of what you have achieved, or of what you are achieving right now for that matter. The important thing is what you intend to do going forward. Only then you will find out what it is worth, and that will depend on what you do now.”
“Through your explorative approach to social media, you have managed to bring the company culture with you. You have generated momentum, and that is the most valuable of all that you have achieved, because that is what you need to build on.”
Jay Baer continued: “Bringing the culture with you is by far the most difficult task. Even large companies, which are one-tenth of your size, cannot get it right. They are afraid to let go, as a result of which their social media programme dies before it has even begun.”
Detrimental not to adapt Michael Chui, who was the driving force behind the social media study published by McKinsey last summer, made it clear that social media can no longer be ignored. It is imperative for all large companies to adopt social media as an integral part of the organisation, or, as he said to us in one of the first Hangouts:
“It will be detrimental for companies that are unable to adapt and exploit the social technologies and the associated optimisation opportunities. This may not happen this year or next year, but it will not be long. If you do not do it, your competitors will, and then, sooner or later, you will be outperformed.”
Next step: to get it out into the business
That was the evaluation part. We then shifted our focus to what we should do in the future. The McKinsey study outlined 10 ways in which social media or technologies can create value for large companies. Of those 10, we identified the four we considered to be the most prudent for us to focus on in the coming years.
Besides our current area, in which we communicate via the official Maersk Line channels, which is an approach rooted in our communications department, we will focus on our customer service, sales and internal use of social technologies for collaboration purposes.